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  1. #166
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    another long one...

    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Yeah, I was thinking about this today and realized I'd misunderstood what you'd been saying about pseudo-objective. You meant that the terms we're using we agree on what they mean, which allows us a framework, reference, etc. for our dialogue and, though we might have misunderstandings or disagreements about what the terms mean, if we can then come to an agreement on the terms, then we have a sort of objectivity on the terms. At least, I think that's what you are saying.
    Yep, that's what I'm saying! Mutually Agreed Upon Codification Of Subjective Assessment ; Maucosa ; OR// Pseudo-Objective. Meaning: A framework of terms and concepts open for discussion between a group of people.

    Where we differ here is that I think that the pseudo-objective framework stands between the purely objective and the purely subjective, but is tied to both. The pseudo-objective is the transitory tool between the outside world of the physical universe, and the inside world of the self, which is then extended to multiple independent "selfs." You could probably call them phenomenological frameworks.

    What is interesting about these frameworks, however, is that they are argued into very precise forms, then loosened back up when they fail, then tightened back up... But the difference here is that it is a process of refinement for the tools of discussion, and references the physical objective world with equal weight to references of the internal subjective. It isn't perfect objectivity, but its the very best we can do.

    And I'm extending this to everything, not just art. Math is a framework, Physics, Chemistry, Feminism, Religion... You name it, and we have a transitional language framework that we use to discuss it. The terms frequently go up for debate, but the effort is always to refine the language-tool we use to suss out the objective world against ourselves and against others.

    But the framework for the discussion, for an exchange of ideas is not the same thing as the discussion or ideas themselves. The framework -- the terms -- become essentially like the rock, a tool. They offer ways to describe views but are not the views themselves.
    Yes, and without the pseudo-objective framework you can't even begin to discuss the objective. Which is what gives it the "power" to stand in for the purely objective.

    The assessment of whether a work is a creative work and then whether a creative work has value are subjective. So we can agree on what a rock is and we can agree, sort of, on the concept of a statue, but whether a pile of rocks qualifies as a statue is subjectively evaluated, and whether a pile of rocks statue has value as art is subjective.
    This is true. Part of the reason I'm not really letting this go is because there is a tendency to overstate the importance of the subjective end of the scale in the middle ground of the pseudo-objective. It is obviously unavoidable, but the process of agreeing on terms is done to ensure that everyone in the discussion is aware of the subjective meanings that are being applied by each other to the pseudo-objective terms. Each individual in a discussion contributes their personal subjective to the pseudo-objective framework.

    Certainly we need common language, as we need common language to discuss anything, but that doesn't change the subjectivity of art in any way. Understanding of language is not the same as experiencing and assessing art.
    I'd argue that they're inseparable. Art and Language are intricately connected, and probably developed together mutually in human evolution.

    It's not exclusive to art, but art is still one of those things that is subjective because it is humans' personal, emotional experience of, reaction to and assessment of something.
    And we don't respond emotionally, and physically, to sport? We don't assess it? We don't compare athletes and say this one is better than that one? We don't have favourites? We don't give MVP awards? We have an assessment language in sport the same way we do it art -- and a large portion of it is equally as divorced from the objective descriptions as with art.

    To determine why one person ran faster than another over the same distance, you can measure kinetic activity, lung capability, wind resistance, turning ratios, and many other factors.
    You can measure those things, and they are sometimes good indicators of overall performance, but they are hardly indicative of the final performance. Two athletes with very different overall physical make-up can compete at the same level in the same sport. They will both do so differently. There is no universal set of criteria for a guaranteed great athlete -- just like artists.

    Certainly the emphasis is on the physical, and there are much better descriptors for the physical that are strong indicators of the objective, but to say "X-amount of muscle mass is best" has virtually no empirical evidence in the objective world. Babe Ruth was a fat man, Mark McGuire was not. Both hit massive runs, but the fat guy was arguably better -- or at least just as good. Why is there an emphasis on physicality in baseball if it isn't necessarily relevant to performance?

    You can also measure how long a story is and how many metaphors the author uses...
    I do agree with this, but I would add that the "counts" in a story can be used in shaping the subjective opinion -- which is where my assertion of the value of the pseudo-objective framework comes in. There is one act of murder/rape/mutilation/etc for every 97 words of Titus Andronicus. By ratio, compared to Shakespeare's other works, that is very high. As a measurable aspect of the work, compared to his other works, that fact can be used as evidence in an argument about Titus. One could equally use the existence of that fact to argue against its relevance in applying it to an interpretation of the text, but it is still something that we can measure and use, pseudo-objectively.

    Subjective is not a dirty word. That opinions about art are subjective does not lessen the value of having such opinions, or our ability to talk about them with each other and understand what the other person is saying without agreeing with it.
    I didn't say it was! But overemphasis on the subjective, and poo-pooing the importance of the pseudo-objective layer that exists within any discussion, ignores the fact that there is a divide between consciousness and reality, and between my consciousness and your consciousness. The only work around for the solipsist problem and all those philosophy-things is the pseudo-objective model we all use to place ourselves and our creations within the physical world.

    The pseudo-objective models we have are part of our development. Without them, we don't do much other than eat and poop. There's neither community nor culture without the pseudo-objective. And, there's no art without it. It is inseparable from both subjectivity and from objectivity. But it is the latter that allows us to ground our discussions in commonality.

    Opinion: Prejudice: Taste:
    I think Opinion necessarily makes reference to primary experience/knowledge of a subject. Prejudice has no such requirement. In that way, Opinion is a pseudo-objective process, Prejudice is subjective.

    Taste is.... well... complicated. But still partly objective. Otherwise you have to outright discard the proven predictive validity of Alfred Binet's work.

  2. #167
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    In the midst of a thread argument, name dropping is considered anti-social behavior. Now I must go look up what other evil Binet foisted upon the world in addition to the intelligence test. Tut tut!

    Speaking of which, returning to the thread topic:
    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight...es/009610.html

  3. #168
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    You know how sometimes you have this idea that this thing you think you know is filed in your brain in the correct category, only to discover it's not?

    I don't know how it got crossed exactly, but it did. The name I should have dropped was Pierre Bourdieu! Somehow his work got filed under Binet in my brain. Well... at least they're both B's.

    Oh, the imperfections of memory...

  4. #169
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    The relationship between habitus and field is a two-way relationship. The field exists only insofar as social agents possess the dispositions and set of perceptual schemata that are necessary to constitute that field and imbue it with meaning. On the other hand, by participating in the field agents incorporate into their habitus the proper know-how that will allow them to constitute the field. Habitus enacts the structures of the field, and the field mediates between habitus and practice.

    Therefore, Bourdieu attempts to use the concepts of habitus and field to tear down the division between the subjective and the objective. (Whether or not he successfully does so is debatable.) Bourdieu asserts that any research must be composed of two "minutes." The first an objective stage of research--where one looks at the relations of the social space and the structures of the field. The second stage must be a subjective analysis of social agents' dispositions to act and their categories of perception and understanding that result from their inhabiting the field. Proper research, he says, cannot do without these two together.
    Clarifies much of what you have been trying to espouse. What goes through my mind is this makes a perfect description of bureaucracy. The dual feedback loop is self contained. Only the members have input and so only the member viewpoint can be considered. This undoubtedly establishes an elite of persons-in-the-field but it also closes those persons off from differing opinions. The longer they can maintain the dual feedback loop, the longer they can maintain their habitus. Thus, they act just like any bureaucracy confronted with change: they resist.
    You now have an organism ripe for a Kuhnian paradigm shift. Mayhaps that explains the transition from Renaissance to Impressionism to ... to ... to ...


    Problem for the Bastions: How does this list conform to your theory?
    http://www.scifi.darkroastedblend.co...on-novels.html
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 15th, 2008 at 11:22 AM.

  5. #170
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    I read over the wikipedia article, and I'm thinking maybe I added a third person into the pile of "French sociologists starting with B" category... There's a guy who produced a book of social maps... like 200+ of them... mapping SES and age with tastes. It still might've been Bourdieu. Of course, it was like... 10 years ago?

    Well, anyway, the point being that tastes, when mapped with SES and age as dependent factors, are predictable. So if tastes have a level of predictability, then at some level tastes can be assessed objectively.

    So if you take Boudieu into the mix and call what he is saying (fields and habitus) what I'm calling pseudo-objective frameworks... we could call those paradigms in the Kuhnian sense. So art is accessed through a variety of paradigms that are inseparable from the both the objective and subjective. Those paradigms manifest bidirectionally in fiction -- the creation of fiction, and the intake of fiction... author and reader.

    For an author to generate SFF, s/he utilizes an SFF paradigm, which the reader in turn is expected to follow based on his/her SFF paradigm. If the author alters the paradigm, the reader likewise must alter their paradigm -- hence the bidirectionality. So there are at least 2 two-way transmissions occurring, individually between author and reader. If we then add two readers and one author, both bidirectional relationships have to be met with a third transaction, reader to reader, in assessing the full paradigmatic mode -- what I'm calling maucosa.

    Taste then can be understood in part as paradigmatic familiarity, and paradigmatic fluidity. That which we already possess a paradigm for, we most prefer. Tastes are developed through socialization processes based largely on SES, which affects education -- which affects access to multiple paradigmatic modes. Individual intelligence (ah! I knew Binet would find his way in here!) could the be understood as the ease with which one acquires new or unfamiliar paradigmatic modes.

    Thus, broad taste can be understood as intelligence meted with broad exposure. Narrow taste is either lower intelligence, thus lower paradigmatic fluidity, despite broad exposure, or high intelligence, potential paradigmatic fluidity, without broad exposure -- this could explain abstract thinking in lower-order societies with highly internal and rote cultural modes. Invention, if you will. Or if you prefer, mythos, scripture, philosophy, and science.

    The generation of new paradigmatic modes is thus a function of intelligence satiation. Philosophy is likewise bidirectional, and Maucosa, in establishing its paradigmatic modes. Philosophy operates meta-paradigmatically to assess and interpret existing paradigmatic modes, and theorizes new modes.

    So, if we are to assess the question of whether or not SFF is inherently more philosophical than any other genre of fiction, we have to analyze the paradigm (pseudo-objective framework) in the bidirectional transmission of fiction-cum-art genre sub types.

    I would say that a required part of the SFF paradigm is the "what if" philosophical question of how and why, which is necessitated by SFF's deliberate contravention of the established existent paradigmatic modes. SFF always establishes its own theoretical paradigmatic mode, independent of pre-existing modes, which makes SFF inherently philosophical.

    General fiction has no such requirement, but can do so if it chooses. So, general fiction may be much broader in scope than SFF, but is not inherently philosophical.

    Ipso Facto, the deep philosophical **** is likely to be found at a higher rate of incidence in SFF.

    Booyah.


  6. #171
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    My assumption: SES does not mean Search Enginer Strategy but something akin to Sex, Education, and Salary. But, then, again I'm wrong because you later state: "tastes are developed through socialization processes based largely on SES, which affects education" so I am left not knowing what you have in mind by SES. You probably said something in an earlier post. If so, I missed it and am too lazy to go re-reading all your posts.
    Your assumptions:
    Statistics compiled 10 years ago remain valid today.
    Statistics prove the objectivity of concepts.
    Given the statistical data, "at some level" has a reality that further analysis can be based upon.
    Two readers of the same book automatically reach MAUCOSA. Because they do, then taste can be a paradigm.
    Paradigms come in sets, familiarity and fluidity. Except that in Kuhnsian terms, there is no fluidity; there is more a resistance to movement.
    Intlligence can be defined as the ease with which one acquires new or unfamiliar paradigmic modes. So, all those scientists Kuhn identified as resisting change were un-intelligent scientists? I thought un-intelligent scientists only occur in the movies.
    Broad or narrow taste are functions of intelligence. They are also the basis for all philosophy.
    "What if?" is a philosophical question. What if the sun doesn't come up tomorrow is a philosophical question? What if Hillary wins? What if the dollar continues to drop against other currencies? What if I have two Sam Adams Winter Lager instead of two Beefeater martinis at the party tonight? These are philosophical questions?
    Paraphrasing your conclusion:
    Ipso Facto, the deep philosophical **** is likely to be found at a higher rate of incidence in our posts than in sff.

  7. #172
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    You guys are a riot!

    Seriously, since we're getting so technical, let's talk about Searle's Background Presuppositions, all those things that allow us to communicate in an intelligent fashion and play by the 'rules' so to speak. Objectivity is just a word that describes the process of evaluating objects after we've established the background presuppositions in each category. But then there's ontological subjectivity, as in sensations of pain!!!

    We need to do a thorough analysis of phenomenology if we want to really analyze what we perceive. And even then we would probably not reach consensus. Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl - the three H's at the least.

    I'm not sure that Fantasy or SF is so suited to dealing with those philosophical issues, but certainly with ethics, nihilism, issues of meaning and value!

  8. #173
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    I'm guessing the French sociologist with "B" could be Jean Baudrillard with his value-object system? (I have a degree in sociology.)

    I'm also guessing SES = socio-economic status.

    ***

    Virtual reality is quite pliable to Husserl, I should think.

  9. #174
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Sex, Education, and Salary.
    LOL! Sorry, I just assumed SES was one of those widely known paradigmatic attributes everyone knows! SES is Socio-Economic Status. Basically, if you're rich or poor, and also where you live, and what kind of access you have to symbolic capital, whether you're a man or a woman, whether or not you're likely to be getting any, and from where, whom, and if you had to pay for it out of however much money you make....

    Your assumptions:
    Statistics compiled 10 years ago remain valid today.
    The theory of the process -- based on the anecdotal evidence and statistical data -- remains valid, despite the the fact that the information used to generate the theory may well be different if measured again today. While it would be quite easy to force the data to fit the theory, don't you think it has a ring of truth to it? What we grow up with determines, to a large extent, what we end up with.

    Statistics prove the objectivity of concepts.
    Soft/social sciences are subject to the exact problem that we're having with this discussion. In order to present a theory based on evidence, one must codify the data in a particular fashion. And (and this is the kicker) one must also codify the terms of the discussion -- that's called Theory. That's why there are standards set up so third party organizations monitor the social sciences' methods and use and codification of data. Soft sciences are notoriously difficult to press into the "impartial 3rd person observer" of the scientific method, but every attempt is made to do so.

    Also, statistical models represents only one aspect of data code. But if statistics aren't valuable in the derivation of theory in soft sciences, then the soft sciences have no real validity anyway and we might as well all be scientologists.

    Given the statistical data, "at some level" has a reality that further analysis can be based upon.
    Two readers of the same book automatically reach MAUCOSA. Because they do, then taste can be a paradigm.
    Most of the time, the paradigm we use to discuss things in general are largely informed by the basics we learn in our education systems (which is a kind of maucosa). If I tried to start spouting narratology at you, you'd either have to learn the terms, or I'd have to use different terms you already know (unless you know narratology, in which case, rad).

    In terms of taste, you really don't think our tastes are paradigmatic? The alternative, if tastes aren't nutured, is that they're naturally hardwired. For that to be the case, our genes would have to know about art and representational reality already, without experience. I prefer to imagine tastes as being at least in part at my own discretion, though informed by my body's capacities, both mentally and physically, and by exposure.

    I'm lucky enough to be able to seek out new things to develop a taste for. Like when I landed on this board

    Paradigms come in sets, familiarity and fluidity. Except that in Kuhnsian terms, there is no fluidity; there is more a resistance to movement.
    I'm deliberately distorting Kuhn. I figured you'd notice! Yes, Kuhn was talking about the hard sciences. But you don't think that those who set up their paradigms in the arts are equally as invested in them, and just as resistant to change?

    Also, Kuhn was doing his work while classical physics was getting the boot. Science went through a massive upheaval in that time. So, sociologically, Kuhn's own theory is subject to the sociological version of itself that I'm using! Kuhn established terms for discussion, people use them -- Maucosa.

    Intlligence can be defined as the ease with which one acquires new or unfamiliar paradigmic modes. So, all those scientists Kuhn identified as resisting change were un-intelligent scientists? I thought un-intelligent scientists only occur in the movies.
    Yeah, pretty much!!! Consider Parker Palmer's question (well paraphrased)... If illusions are negative and keep us from knowing the truth, why do we consider disillusionment to be a bad thing? Isn't the goal of our life to shed our illusions and walk in the light of truth?

    He was talking about the maintenance of innocence in children, and teaching ourselves and our children to welcome disillusionment because disillusionment is learning. But the point is, we have an emotional investment in our illusions. We maintain them until we can no longer sustain them for the effort. Ignorance is bliss, so the saying goes. Ignorance is ignorance, so says I.

    No "smart" scientist places his/her theory above evidence. Resistance to change is its own kind of idiocy. But it's just habit. And it's fully fostered in the academic community. A "smart" scientist concedes fault, rejigs his/her theory, and tries again. Science is a process, not a result.

    Broad or narrow taste are functions of intelligence. They are also the basis for all philosophy.
    "What if?" is a philosophical question. What if the sun doesn't come up tomorrow is a philosophical question? What if Hillary wins? What if the dollar continues to drop against other currencies? What if I have two Sam Adams Winter Lager instead of two Beefeater martinis at the party tonight? These are philosophical questions?
    Well, yes. If the sun didn't come up, that would either mean that the sun disappeared, or that the earth stopped spinning, or that something was in the way of our ability to see it. For any of those things to occur, our worldview and understanding of the universe would change dramatically -- that's one of the main purviews of philosophy. If Hillary wins, it changes the American character from paternal to maternal, which feminist theory, gender theory, and marxist theory all deal with, all of which come complete with philosophical implications and arguments. And I don't know for the life of me why anyone would drink Sam Adams...

    But since we're on the subject... If you choose beer versus martini, its possible you are choosing between cancer, or no cancer. You can't really know that ahead of time, but the butterfly effect and chaos theory being what it is... yes, it's an immense philosophical question. If you wind up with stomach cancer from Sam Adams (seems likely to me), was it accidental? Was it God's plan? Did it have meaning? If you don't wind up, would you notice? Or, did this decision affect your next decision, and next time you repeat the experiment?

    And to go in even further... How does one versus the other change your physical make up? How long did it take to consume each? If you finished a half second too late, did you miss a bus? Did a car hit you on the street? Did a girl see you with the martini and think you were gay, so you never got married to your wife? Did a guy see you and you wound up gay? Did it make you gain a pound and prevent you from joining the air force?

    "If I chose differently" is pretty much what half of philosophy is all about...

    Paraphrasing your conclusion:
    Ipso Facto, the deep philosophical **** is likely to be found at a higher rate of incidence in our posts than in sff.
    So, so very true...

  10. #175
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GW
    ...but certainly with ethics, nihilism, issues of meaning and value!
    And you observe that sff deals with these issues more often than modern fiction? Already did a post on books not sff that dealt with like issues so I won't bore you with such a listing again. But such a position certainly begs proof.
    Quote Originally Posted by FlungPoo
    Soft sciences are notoriously difficult to press into the "impartial 3rd person observer" of the scientific method, but every attempt is made to do so. Also, statistical models represents only one aspect of data code. But if statistics aren't valuable in the derivation of theory in soft sciences, then the soft sciences have no real validity anyway...
    Critics of the soft sciences take inordinate delight in this situation. Statistics are valuable clues but I don't think statistical data, per se, can be taken as proof of anything. The margin for error in the collection device, the sample, and the interpretation is just too great.
    Quote Originally Posted by FungKoo
    In terms of taste, you really don't think our tastes are paradigmatic? The alternative, if tastes aren't nutured, is that they're naturally hardwired
    Statistical data provided, sample of one, me: Grew up in a fundamentalist family. Two siblings remain strong fundamentalist. One teeters on the edge. One was politically correct for whatever circumstance he found himself in..and therefore quite successful. Two are gliding through the currents wearing teflon. I, on the other hand, at age 14 began to find flaws and by age 18 had broken with that tradition. I have spent the next several decades attempting to discover what I believe in. Am almost certain that I believe in something.
    The circumstance did not prevent me from developing a code to live by. Unfortunately, that code keeps evolving. I used to believe in a just war; I don't now. I used to believe in the sanctity of life; I don't now. I used to think religion served a useful purpose; I don't now. I used to believe my government was trustworthy; I don't now. So, I wasn't hardwired at birth but the "nurturing" I derived from my family and the schools I grew up in are pretty far from where I have arrived. Most of my nurturing came from books though 1960 Korea and 1968 Vietnam were one hell of an education. I am still wondering what I am going to be when I grow up.
    Quote Originally Posted by FungKoo
    Most of the time, the paradigm we use to discuss things in general are largely informed by the basics we learn in our education systems (which is a kind of maucosa). If I tried to start spouting narratology at you,..
    No, you and Gary are just name dropping.
    Concur that we need a language to communicate.

    The point of Kuhn was not that the scientists were stupid or anti-social or against new knowledge. They were and are simply humans in a bureaucracy, invested in the status quo, comfortable, and resistant to anything that threatens that comfort level. That's why Kuhn could sell so many inspirational tapes to business.

    Quote Originally Posted by FungKoo
    Why would anyone drink Sam Adams?
    Because they can.

    With respect to the assorted what if's and your analyses thereof, are you then of the opinion that anything experiential in the world is, ipso facto, philosophical in nature? If so, what is it that makes sff the last bastion?

    BTW, if the sun doesn't come up tomorrow, I don't believe we'll be philosophizing on this board.

    Another BTW: Sex, Education, and Salary are damned close to Socio-Economic Status. I'd venture to say that they make a more informative statement about SES than SES does.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 16th, 2008 at 08:37 AM.

  11. #176
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Anyone else find it amusing that the guy talking about having to have everyone on the same playing field for terms to have a discussion is having to explain all his terms?

    Here's what I will not be doing -- talking about Kuhn and all those other guys. Also, as someone who had to edit way too many self-help books, paradigms is not a word I will be using, thanks. You want to argue with me, junk the jargon, and I won't tell my husband that you just said his profession has nothing to do with science.

    Foo -- hear what you're saying (the first part anyway,) and agree in part. However, the argument that we use objective data frequently in a subjective way, and that therefore that makes the assessment of art not really subjective doesn't really compute for me.

    Say you have a pole vault. We measure how high up the pole is. We measure how high a person jumps. We can see if he jumps over the pole. And on that basis, he wins the competition. Same for a ski race -- fastest time wins.

    For other types of sports, such as football, there are referees. While the referees are using sensory perception and set penalties for specific actions, there is a slight subjectivity in their ruling on what they see. But, the measurements of the game -- how many yards a ball has traveled, whether a basketball goes through the hoop and how many times, etc. -- causes one team or the other to score -- a measurement -- and win.

    Then we have sports in which it gets more complicated, such as ice skating and gymnastics. These sports don't have a set score for winning, but instead a panel of judges. These judges operate on the objective -- points are assigned for specific actions such as not falling or stumbling on the jump/dismount -- the semi-objective -- technical difficulty where different moves are objectively measured but the judges have subjective discretion as to how hard the combination of those moves might be seen as being -- and the subjective -- artistic interpretation. Artistic. As in the arts. As in the arts which are experienced subjectively. To judge artistic merit, the judges draw on their experience and knowledge and their sensory perceptions of the performance and form an opinion. A subjective opinion. This may cause them to give different scores and for others not judging, but equally learned and experienced, to disagree with those scores. Because they're subjective, which is what happens when you get to the art part.

    Sports fans can certainly argue about who is the best ball player and that arguing will be subjective. But all the fans have to deal with the number of home runs Babe Ruth hit. That number, that measurement, is independent of their views about Ruth -- it does not change. Likewise, we can say that one runner ran faster than another and won because he wanted it more, and that is a subjective evaluation of his performance which may or may not be correct -- never really to be determined -- but the measurement of his run, the speed he ran versus the speed the other person ran, we can't change. It's like the rock. It's as objective as we're going to get.

    But in the arts, we can't even agree that the pole is there, much less how high it is. We can get partial agreement in groups, but not an independent measurement of task performance that does not change no matter who looks at it. When we evaluate art, we may use objective or semi-objective data, but that data does not determine what is art and what is valuable art -- the measurements we can make don't tell you the score because we don't agree what scoring means. As you yourself have acknowledged, the subjective opinion is what art comes down to.

    You say that though that subjectivity is there, you think too much emphasis is placed on it. But what I've been trying to explain is that the opposite is true. People usually either acknowledge and then ignore the subjectivity of art or deny its existence entirely (artistic objectivism.)

    I can, for instance, count objectively the number of bodies in Titus and from that I can subjectively create a theory about the whys and wherefores of Shakespeare doing that, which others can then subjectively argue. But the number of bodies in Titus does not measure whether the play is art and whether it is valuable art.

    Yet, many people think subjectively that it should. A large part of the reason that "genre" fiction is decried by many is that it has high body counts and violent action. This for some folk's measurement scale makes the work less artistic and less valuable. Others base their subjective measurement on whether the work was first put out in mass market paperback or not. We may in groups agree that this bit of objective data or that, that this comparison to past works or that one, is what determines the artistic worth, but for other groups, such factors are irrelevant and prejudiced.

    So when a panel of judges sits down to decide a literary award, they may call upon many things -- their experience as writers or critics or readers of fine literature. They may have degrees in literature and have studied it extensively and are able to reference the past works of others. And all the rest of it -- their SES, their preferences, etc., and then they each subjectively decide who wins. They may disagree with each other, others not on the panel may disagree with the majority vote or even the chosen nominees, but a subjective judgment is made for a winner.

    A group of art critics can also look at a pile of rocks and determine whether it is a statue and whether that statue has any worth. They will draw on their experience and learning, the works of the past, and the novelty that they may subjectively determine in the work -- and they will render different decisions as to whether the pile of rocks is art and should win or be sold for a nice big sum.

    These winners are not the right choice. There isn't any right to it. Whereas the track competitor who clears the pole at the highest height wins. And that is the experience of art.

    Your turn, less jargon.

  12. #177
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    A large part of the reason that "genre" fiction is decried by many is that it has high body counts and violent action.

    Are you talking about Shakespeare? Oh, sorry, genre fiction.

    What about best in show at Westminster? I do wonder how they make the determination. Within a breed you can establish standards. When you then place the best of breeds into a group, it's not so easy. Finally when you put the best of each group into the ring and decide best in show? Amazing that they can ever do it! Amazing that they're not sued by breeders of other types of dogs. Amazing that so many people go out and buy that breed the year after it's chosen as best in show. All this astounds me since it's completely arbitrary and subjective, and no one takes such subjective decisions seriously enough to believe that there might be a judge who knows more than they do! Are they right? Who the hell knows, but we do respect their ability to judge, and we accept their decisions because they have spent their professional lives cultivating the art of judging and developing the tools to judge what to so many of us seem matters of taste.

    Is it possible that there are people more capable than we are of evaluating the merits of art or fashion or dogs or books? And if so, based upon what? Talent? Vision? A better eye? Knowledge? Experience? Education? Or is it just silly, as KatG states, to think that anyone knows anymore than anyone else about anything? That we all simply have our opinions and that they're arbitrary and a matter of taste?

    KatG, I don't mean to beat a dead horse. (Well, it's not nearly dead or we wouldn't be talking about this still) But I truly do understand what you are saying. And if I put on a different hat than the one I put on when I started this thread, I'd even argue with you rather than against you, because I don't believe that there are universal standards in ethics particularly, and I don't believe in the concepts that ground them in our current reality, like God and the Devil etc. But I do believe that we can agree on terms in advance or, if not in advance, then in the course of a dialogue, in order to evalutate and come to agreement on our vocabularly of taste. And once we do, though surely it's not everlasting, we can discuss art and understand what we're all talking about when we say good, better and best.

    The anarchy of thought that results from your perspective is not functional. It extends to all aspects of life, to the point where murder is not murder, genocide could be seen as making a race better, cruelty is strength of will, sympathy is weakness, and on and on. We can say that good and bad are matters of taste, and we can try to live in a world that respects those unsteady definitions. Or we can attempt to redefine those subjective and temporal values so that we can converse in a society and raise the standards of art in a dialectical fashion.
    Last edited by Gary Wassner; February 16th, 2008 at 05:35 PM.

  13. #178
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Anyone else find it amusing that the guy talking about having to have everyone on the same playing field for terms to have a discussion is having to explain all his terms?
    ...
    Your turn, less jargon.
    Just for the record, I sometimes do things purely to amuse myself! The 80's ruled for jargon, and I think jargon and theory has taken a real backseat to some sort of super-subjective artistic hedonism. But crafting concise, well defined, and useful jargon is, in itself, something of an art form! So I was being facetious and deliberately obfuscatory, but I was trying to do it well

    My argument is this:

    We use frameworks to understand ourselves and how we operate within the world. I think there is a pretty universal experience of alienation at not being able to truly understand another person from within. In order to get around the supersubjective "I am the centre of the universe" statement that we can all make -- and all be equally valid in doing so -- we craft generalist and specific language forms that allow us to communicate about issues and the world.

    The more divorced a topic is from the objective, the harder it is to establish terms. But in the end, we are always referencing the ojective world. We ourselves are objects. I cannot ever discuss anything without at some point coming back to the objective world.

    So for that reason, the frameworks themselves are our stand-ins for the objective.

    In order to make a claim like "SFF is the last bastion of philosophy" we have to consider What is the SFF-Framework? and What is the Philosophy-Framework? and What is the General-Fiction-Framework? In otherwords, what is our understanding of subjects in question? Where are they similar, and where are they different?

    Philosophy and SFF, in genral, both focus on illustrating the tensions between Us (the subjective) and the world (the objective). SFF focuses on what effect changes within the objective would hold for the subjective and pseudo-objective/pseudo-subjective frameworks (politics, economics, gender, etc), or vice versa. SFF would not really be SFF without that requirement.

    "SFF" stories that don't introduce some kind of alteration almost always come up as problematic. We have trouble categorizing them, and so we've had to expand the definition of terms like "fable" and "allegory." So my argument is that SFF requires some kind of alteration in the objective/subjective situation that we already know and experience everyday.

    Philosophy examines the processes of the everyday, frequently relying on alterations to illustrate what we already know. Where it doesn't, it questions the frameworks themselves, tears them apart, and rebuilds them.

    General fiction has no such requirement. A general fiction story can simply show us everything we already know and still be a great story. At no point is there a requirement of alteration, reduction, destruction, or construction. Which is not to say that general fiction can't make those alterations and analyses. But when it does, you'll notice that it tends to get separated out into genre subsets, like drug-lit.

    So, I think the operational framework of SFF is inherently more closely related to the operational framework of philosophy than general fiction's.

  14. #179
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    "SFF" stories that don't introduce some kind of alteration almost always come up as problematic.
    I suppose that Mike Resnick, Keith Laumer, C.J. Cherryh, Elizabeth Moon, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Douglas Adams - and these are just some of my favorites - were problematic, not easily categorized, and generally not playing by the rules when they wrote their space operas, basically taking today's headlines or what ought to be today's headlines and writing them into sometime in the future.
    Go take a look at Tales of the Velvet Comet, or any of the Retief stories, or the Down Below Station stories, or Bio of a Space Tyrant, or the Heris Sorrano stories, or The Gap stories, or The Illustrated Man stories, or The Foundation Series, or The Hitchhiker series.
    All are soaps transferred to space with little or no philosophy anywhere to be found. Well, Don't Panic is a brilliant philosophy but that isn't what the story is about, or is it?

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Well... If I interpreted your earlier answer correctly, you're of the opinion that in order for a work to be considered "philosophical," the philosophy has to be deliberately made into an explicit central point in the text. Right?

    I'm of the opinion that implication is enough. So long as there is fodder for discussion on a given topic, then the subject is present in the text regardless if it explicit or implicit.

    So, what about dystopias (regardless of their status as SF)? Some dystopias openly discuss socio-political philosophy. Others do not. Are some dystopias philosophical, and others are not?

    Chucking philosophy to the side for 5 seconds, what about gender-theory? (assuming gender theory has no philosophical implication) Is it fair to assess a text for its treatment of gender if gender isn't an explicit central point of discussion in the text?

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